Babysitter investigated for murder in Marysville baby’s death

MARYSVILLE — A babysitter has been arrested for investigation of murder in connection with the February death of a 4-month old girl in Marysville.

Detectives arrested the 22-year-old woman Friday morning, Marysville police Cmdr. Wendy Wade said. The suspect was expected to be booked for investigation of second-degree murder.

A 911 call was made around 10:45 a.m. Feb. 26 after the girl stopped breathing. The infant was at the Marysville babysitter’s home in the 6600 block of 94th Street NE, police said.

The baby was taken first to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett before being transferred to Harborview Medical Center. She was kept on life support for three days. The girl died Feb. 29.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner ruled that the baby died of non-accidental trauma and from head and neck injuries. Her death was the result of what once was called “shaken-baby syndrome,” Marysville police said in a press release.

Police said the arrest was made after detectives received lab results and information from forensic scientists.

Court documents describing the allegations were not immediately available.

Public defender Cassie Trueblood has been working with the woman for months when it became clear that she was a suspect in the child’s death.

“She has been nothing but responsible dealing with this,” Trueblood said. “She maintains her innocence and wants her day in court.”

Trueblood pointed to a growing controversy among medical and legal experts surrounding “shaken-baby syndrome.” Some have been challenging the science behind the diagnosis, now often referred to as abusive head trauma.

It “has been widely debunked across the country,” Trueblood said. “As recently as yesterday courts have overturned convictions based solely on a medical diagnosis of shaken-baby syndrome. This case is that exact kind of case.”

Trueblood cited a ruling Thursday by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that overturned the 2007 child assault conviction of a man.

The court noted in its ruling that “there is a heated debate in the medical community as to whether a violent shaking of a baby alone can generate enough force to cause the triad of symptoms of traumatic brain injury, and as to whether these symptoms can sometimes be caused by a short accidental fall.”

The court found that there was a “substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice” in the case before it because the man’s attorneys failed to offer expert testimony to counter the prosecution’s “shaken baby” theory. The court ordered a new trial in that case.

“It’s time that the court system and the police departments here catch up with the rest of the country recognizing this as an invalid science,” Trueblood said.

The suspect was first taken to the Marysville Police Department and was expected to be transported to the Snohomish County Jail.

Court records indicate that the woman’s infant child was removed from her custody in March while police investigated the other baby’s death. The child was placed with her father.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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